A letter to the Financial Times, from Mr Julian Boswall, 20 June, 2017:
Sir, It is not correct that the people in Britain were mendaciously told in 1975 that the common market had “no political agenda” (Letters, June 16). Enoch Powell, for example, acknowledged this on the BBC referendum results show (available on BBC Parliament) when he said: “I make no complaint for the pro-Marketeers, particularly people like Edward Heath and Peter Kirk. They have been beyond criticism in that they have made it perfectly clear that to remain part of the Common Market is to renounce national status for Britain. They say the nation state is obsolete and we are to recognise it.”
He went on to say he thought the British people “do not mean it” because they have “not been able to credit the implications” of membership and that ultimately they would insist on their departure once those implications had sunk in.
The real shame of our present predicament is that we were actively negotiating a free-trade deal with the European Economic Community in 1958, which was blocked when Charles de Gaulle regained power – his first and most important veto. Here we are 60 years later having another go. Imagine how much trouble everyone could have saved all round if de Gaulle had said Yes.
If you don’t know much, or anything, about Enoch Powell, I recommend you spend a few minutes reading up his biography. An extraordinarily gifted man, whose tremendous intellect encouraged in him a strongly conservative bent and allowed him to see far into the future. Sadly, while his intellectual powers produced an impressive level of epistemic rationality, he wasn’t able to sway or convince those around him of the correctness of his conclusions, even though he always spoke with perfect clarity. Compounding his problem with persuasion was his honest attachment to his conservative outlook, which, in an era of collectivism and mania for progress, made him seem out of touch.
The children of the British who ignored Powell are now paying for the errors of their parents with their blood and treasure.
Fingers crossed they learn something from the difficulties they are suffering.